The South African Motor Corporation, more commonly known as Samcor, was a South African car manufacturer created in 1985 through the merger of Ford's South African subsidiary and Sigma (previously known as Amcar - American Motors Corporation), which produced Mazdas for the local market.
As a result of the merger, Ford and Mazda began to share models in South Africa, as they already did in other markets. For example, in 1986, the European-sourced Ford Escort was replaced by the Laser and Meteor based on the Mazda 323. Similarly, in 1993, the Ford Sierra was replaced by the Telstar, based on 626. However, this badge engineering proved unpopular with some buyers in South Africa.
Ford South Africa was based in Port Elizabeth (now part of the Eastern Cape province) and had been operating since 1923. In the early 1980s, it had both a vehicle assembly plant and an engine plant in Struandale, together with an older assembly plant in Neave. After the merger with Sigma and the formation of Samcor, the engine plant continued to be operated by Samcor and in 2015 is still operating under Ford ownership. Both the assembly plants were closed and all vehicle production transferred to Samcor's Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria. The Struandale assembly plant was subsequently sold to Delta Motor Corporation (General Motors).
Silverton Assembly Plant
The Silverton Assembly Plant (25°43′21″S 28°20′06″E) is located on Simon Vermooten Road, in an industrial area on the outskirts of Silverton. It is approximately 15 km (9 miles) east of Church Square, the centre of Pretoria. The township of Mamelodi is nearby, and many of Samcor's labour force came from there.
On the main site is the assembly plant itself and two office administration buildings. Adjacent is the Parts & Accessories warehouse which includes the Customer Service offices. Samcor also used to have a separate design studio and Service Training facilities, both in nearby Silvertondale. Both were closed in the 1990s.
Originally built in 1961 for Chrysler, early models assembled at Silverton included the Chrysler Valiant and the Peugeot 504. As of 2015, the assembly plant is still operating under Ford ownership. It now assembles only the Ford Ranger pick-up and, in smaller numbers, the similar Mazda BT-50.
Although Samcor's exports were mainly confined to Southern Africa, from 1991 to 1993, it exported the South African version of the Mazda 323 to the UK, as the Sao Penza. However, just over 1,000 were sold and just four remain.
The Samcor corporate logo was oval-shaped, similar to the Ford logo. Initially, both monochrome and colour versions were used. The colour version consisted of three horizontal bands of orange, white and blue with "SAMCOR" on the middle band. These were the main colours used on the old South African national flag pre-1994. After the introduction of the new national flag, the colour logo was dropped and only the monochrome version used.
The logos were mainly used on internal documentation and business cards. Vehicles were not badged as Samcor, but the Samcor logo and name was used on Vehicle Identification (VIN) plates.
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- South Africa's Shrinking Auto Industry, Chicago Tribune, October 25, 1985
- Financial Mail, Volume 104, Issues 5-9, page 221
- Doing Business in South Africa, Jonathan Reuvid, Kogan Page, 1995, page 270
- FORD, MAZDA ZOOM APART, CAR magazine, September 1st 2002
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- Smith, Olly. "SAO PENZA - How Many Left?". Howmanyleft.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-08-07.
- Ford Service Dealer Location Map - Feb 1992. Part No. 92BC-980-AA.